Pakistan’s Minister of State for Finance and Revenue, Aisha Ghaus Pasha, declared during a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on May 16 that cryptocurrency services would be banned in the country and that crypto trading would never be legalized. Multiple local media reports confirmed the statements, with other officials, including State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Director Sohail Jawad, expressing support for the decision.
Pasha emphasized that the ban on crypto was a requirement set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which removed Pakistan from its gray list in October. The gray list includes countries that the FATF considers deficient in Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing measures but are actively working to address these issues. Reports indicate that the SBP and the Ministry of Information and Technology are collaborating on drafting legislation for the ban.
The news of the upcoming crypto ban sparked disapproval among the Pakistani crypto community on Twitter, with some expressing concerns about the loss of opportunities and income for individuals involved in crypto trading. However, the government’s stance on crypto has been consistent, as the SBP has reportedly been seeking a ban on cryptocurrencies since at least January.
While the FATF does not have the authority to impose sanctions on non-compliant countries, its evaluations and findings carry significant weight and can influence government and corporate policies worldwide. Pakistan, currently facing an economic crisis and engaged in bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, likely considers a favorable report from the FATF as a political priority.
It’s worth noting that despite the crypto ban, Pakistan has plans to launch a central bank digital currency in 2025 and has recently implemented a national blockchain-based Know Your Customer platform. Although crypto adoption has been relatively high in the country, with reports suggesting Pakistani citizens held approximately $20 billion worth of crypto in 2021, the government remains steadfast in its opposition to decentralized cryptocurrencies.